JICA Ogata Research Institute

News & Views

Book 'Development for Sustainable Agriculture, The Brazilian Cerrado' Published

December 2, 2015

How was "the Cerrado miracle" made possible in a tropical savanna region of Brazil that once was considered unfit for agriculture?


The book "Development for Sustainable Agriculture," which addresses this theme, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in October 2015. Senior Research Advisor Akio Hosono of JICA-RI, former President Carlos Magno Campos da Rocha of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) and former Senior Advisor Yutaka Hongo of JICA edited the book.


A vast tropical savanna region, the Cerrado
A vast tropical savanna region,
the Cerrado

Brazil is one of the world's major grain producers today. It was even the world's largest exporter of soybeans in 2011.


However, Brazil was a net importer of grain until the 1980s, when the country achieved a major breakthrough after converting a vast tropical savanna region, called the Cerrado, into one of the world's most productive agricultural regions. For the first time in human history, grain farming in a tropical region was realized with high productivity on previously barren land. The development of agriculture in the Cerrado was described as "one of the great achievements of agricultural science in the 20th century" by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, a Nobel Prize winner for his contribution to the Green Revolution.


The book aims to reveal the major factors behind this agricultural success by analyzing it as a process of establishing and developing a new industry, in which an extensive and diversified agro-industry value chain was developed, generating competitive value-added exports such as meat and expanding employment opportunities and regional development.


After the announcement of Japan's cooperation aimed at development of the Cerrado in 1974, Japan provided financial and technical cooperation to Brazilian institutions over two and a half decades until 2001.


Yutaka Hongo joined the Japan Emigration Service, one of the precursors of JICA, in 1971 and took a post in the JICA Brazil office in 1974. For 20 years, he was one of the greatest Japanese contributors to the development of the Cerrado.


Akio Hosono is Former Ambassador of Japan to El Salvador and one of Japan's leading experts on development studies. He is currently a senior research advisor at JICA-RI, conducting research mainly on experiences of development and Japanese cooperation, focusing on capacity development and economic transformation.


The development of the Cerrado is a crucial factor in Brazil's impressive poverty reduction, which has been achieved through job creation, socially inclusive growth, and nutritional improvement and food security. The region's crops also contribute globally to the world's food security.


Hosono, who conducted a field survey of the Cerrado with Hongo, said, "The book is a collaboration between Japanese and Brazilian researchers and practitioners. Chapters on technological and institutional innovations that enabled sustainable Cerrado agriculture were written by prominent figures directly engaged in the development of the Cerrado. I hope that further progress will be made in research on the Cerrado and the book will serve as a first step forward."


Commenting that the year 2015 marks the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Brazil, he added that he wants many people to learn the great contribution made by pioneering Nikkei farmers (Japanese descendants) for the development of the Cerrado, especially in its initial phase.

Top of Page